I realize that I might be accused of being a decade too late for this discussion, but looking back at 1995, the Star Trek writers did a truly phenomenal job of painting a flawless portrait of our first female captain, (Elizabeth) Kathryn Janeway.
In my teens, I’d skipped the Star Trek Voyager series entirely. I took the attitude, as devoted TNG Trekkie, that nothing could ever be like The Next Generation, so why bother? Now, at age 2*, as I finally embark on a journey of self-discovery and feminist theory, I find that I am eager to discover strong, female role models to admire. Loneliness frequently haunts my voyage and sometimes the weight of despair about the state of our world and its ingrained sexism engulfs me. But if I can find evidence of egalitarianism and show proof that sexism needn’t be present in all fictional depictions of women, it becomes easier to revitalize my hope and faith in a positive future.
Janeway very much revitalizes my optimism. I’ve watched the complete first season (I’m partway through Season 2) and I am utterly satisfied that her character was invented and executed with incomparable equity and sensitivity. She conducts herself professionally while retaining charm and personality. Her mind – and wit – is sharp at all times. She exudes strength and perseveres heartily through adversity. The other characters relate to her in a respectful manner (or else they learn to do so in short order) and she even has a sense of humor. Neither too harsh nor too soft, she stands up for herself and others when injustice or disrespect rears its head. She speaks for those who have lesser voices and maintains high standards of personal integrity.
There are millions of unwanted stereotypes that could’ve crept onscreen, such as:
- A complete absence of sexuality
- Overdone harshness
- Overdone sexuality
- Exaggerated youthful appearance
- Heavy makeup
- Skimpy or cleavage-accentuating uniform
- Obsession with her body image
- Emotional vulnerability (not to say she lacks sensitivity, but she consistently conducts herself as Captain.)
- Obsession with her age
- Competitive attitude toward other women
- Subservience toward the second-in-command male
- Control issues
and much more… but these things haven’t surfaced. And as I continue my journey into the great unknown, I am comforted with Janeway by my side. If she can do it, maybe all of us can.
Collectively, as a society, we decide what is culturally “beautiful” based on what we see depicted as sensual, sexual and beautiful on a regular basis. Maybe if there were more fat girls depicted within the sexual, sensual arena, it would help our culture accept fat sexiness as fact.
The problem doesn’t lie solely in the fact that women are emphatically encouraged to feel shame about their bodies and to “fix” them if they are not the required size or proportion; the fact is, people who are attracted to fat women (and men!) are shamed as well. If people aren’t allowed to speak up about their attraction to fat women and men, how are the “skinny slickers,” the “toothpick tappers,” the “bone bumpers” ever going to realize that not everyone sees it their way.
I have finally come out of the closet after battling with myself for YEARS… my name is Nikita Blue and I am a “chubby chaser.” I myself have wished I had softer curves and a gentler physique all my life. Even as a young girl, when I thought of sensuality, I imagined a voluptuous goddess with a soft face, tender eyes and a pouting smile. I dreamed that I’d be with a girl like that someday… or maybe even be a girl like that someday. However, my body was destined to be scrawny and diminutive my entire life.
As you might guess, I was never one to be particularly swayed by the media (largely because I grew up in a restrictive, Baptist home and we weren’t exposed to much media) or by my peers (I also had few friends, partially due to my lack of desire to “blend”). However, this desire – my sexual interest in fat girls and boys – was one that I immediately learned held great shame. Powerful shame. I still dated the boys and girls I liked – and I typically dealt with the discrimination through fights, defending my lovers’ body weight to insecure, often stick-bodied bullies of both sexes – but I never truly ‘fessed up about my preference for full-figured gals and barrel-chested men. I knew it was forbidden. When friends were gathered, divulging the dirtiest details about their sex lives and fantasies, I knew that my secret crushes and lusty daydreams would be scoffed at. So I kept my mouth shut and simply nodded enthusiastically, agreeing with whatever they said and whomever they admired, even if I could find no angle of interest.
For a while, I thought I was a lesbian altogether, since men with their musculatory systems hanging out at me held NO interest whatsoever. But I finally came to the conclusion that I just didn’t like those types of men. I wanted something more.
Once I finally came to terms with what I really wanted, I still kind of had a problem with the word “fat.” Why? Well, it’s obvious: people use the word as an insult, not a statement of fact. “Yeah? Well… you’re fat!” (It also seemed to be a word which “naturally” coupled itself with “ugly.” You don’t want to date Sarah’s sister; she’s fat and ugly. Fat-and-ugly. Fat-and-ugly.) Sooner or later, everyone gets the point.
But “fat” is not – and should not – be an insult. Some people are fat, some people are skinny… most people have fat – and, no, it doesn’t mean that those people should be terrified of diabetes or heart disease or whatever, for God’s sake. Breathe, and relinquish all concern for a person’s health to that person… and breathe… okay… now, some people are fat, some people are skinny, and most people have fat. (Also, lots of people smoke cigarettes and drink, but they don’t get dragged onto talk shows with family members who are “concerned” for their health.)
But because of the fact that I’d been fed the huge LIE that beautiful = thin for so long… and the equally-as-damaging lie that people who get turned on by soft curves or meatier muscles have something wrong with them, I have been in the closet with my secret for over 20 years.
I love ALL of the fat on my boyfriend’s body. I also love every follicle of hair, every square inch of skin and every powerful muscle.
And I’m not ashamed to tell you that I think fat women are HOT.